Dutch railway agrees to pay Holocaust compensation
Thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families in the Netherlands are due to receive compensation from the Dutch state-run rail firm.
NS reportedly earned around €2.5 million from the Nazis for transporting Jews and other minorities during the Holocaust.
The firm said it was a “black page in the history of the company”. CEO Roger van Boxtel said the employer would pay “tens of millions of euros”.
He told a press conference that the company would make the payments. “We want to make a gesture towards those directly involved, and the question of how the NS deals with its war history is a difficult one,” van Boxtel said.
“We realise though that any amount of money does not take away individual suffering.” The tax office had agreed the money would not be subject to income tax or affect any other benefits, van Boxtel added.
Around 70 per cent of Dutch Jews community died during the war.
Most were taken from Amsterdam and other cities by train to camps in the Netherlands before being sent to the border and put on German trains to their death.
The initiative was begun by Salo Muller, former physiotherapist for Ajax Amsterdam football club, who lost both his parents in Auschwitz after they were transported by NS.
In 2005, the Dutch train company apologised. In 2018, it set up a commission to investigate how to pay compensation.
The commission estimated that there were up to 5,500 next of kin entitled to payment, meaning the total was expected to exceed €35 million.
More than 100,000 Dutch Jews died in the Nazi camps out of a pre-war Jewish population of 140,000. Most passed through the transit camp at Westerbork before being moved to Nazi camps throughout Europe.
Job Cohen, a former mayor of Amsterdam, who led the commission, said the payments were a moral gesture.
Cohen said: “It is not possible to name a reasonable and fitting amount of money that can compensate even a bit of the suffering of those involved.”
NS said an estimated 500 living survivors of the Holocaust, who were transported by the company, would receive €15,000 each.
The spouses of victims are eligible to receive €7,500 and, if they are no longer alive, the surviving children would be paid €5,000.
Germany has paid around €70 billion for Nazi crimes, mainly to Jewish survivors.
Rotterdam. Wartime collaboration brought no easy choices. Picture credit: GoodFreePictures